'Gary From Chicago,' Who Stole Show at Oscars, Served 22 Years for Attempted Rape

From left at the Oscars: Vickie Vines, Denzel Washington, Gary Alan Coe, Jimmy Kimmel / Facebook
February 28, 2017

The man known as "Gary from Chicago" who stole the show Sunday night at the Academy Awards served 22 years in prison for attempted rape and other crimes.

Gary Alan Coe and his fiancee Vickie Vines were part of the group of unsuspecting tourists who Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel invited inside the Dolby Theater in Hollywood during the ceremony.

Coe, 59, a native of the South Shore of Chicago, introduced himself as "Gary from Chicago" while wearing a "Hollywood" sweatshirt and holding his fiancee's purse, Page Six reported. He kissed the hands of several celebrities sitting in the front row and Denzel Washington even pretended to marry him and Vines with Kimmel standing right there.

But Coe was only able to attend the awards show because he was released from a California prison three days earlier after serving over 20 years for multiple felonies, ABC7 in Chicago reported.

One of those felonies was "attempted rape by force of fear," for which he was imprisoned in October 1994, the Daily Mail disclosed on Tuesday. It is unclear if the organizers of the Academy Awards were aware that he is now a registered sex offender.

Coe was then handed down a life sentence in 1997 for stealing $79 of perfume from a Robinsons-May store in Los Angeles on New Year's Eve, 1996. The sentence was so strict because of the "three strikes and you're out laws" at the time that made an individual's third felony automatically lead to a life sentence with a minimum of 25 years.

California's state prison records indicate Coe was not in custody at the time of the robbery, according to the Daily Mail. It is unclear why he was not being held.

Coe was convicted in June 1997.

The attempted rape conviction could have been one of the felonies that led to the life term. It is unclear what each of the three felony convictions were, but one was theft related, according to the Daily Mail.

Coe tried multiple times to appeal his sentence to no avail until he successfully filed a petition to have the theft conviction downgraded to a misdemeanor. The sentence was  adjusted accordingly and appears to be the reason that Coe was just released.

Coe met Vines in jail, where he turned to religion. The couple planned to get married this summer, but Washingtonwho Vines said is one of her favorite actors, declared them "man and wife" in a mock wedding on stage.

Cole told ABC7 that he is a changed man after being in jail for 22 years.

"Change is possible. It's a sad day to be in prison for 20 years and not be able to be a dad, granddad to your children," he said. "You know what my son told me today, man, and I almost come to tears. He said he's proud of me. So to hear your children say that they're proud of me means the world to me."

Cole and his fiancee were supposed to appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Monday, but the segment was canceled, Page Six reported. They were told the post-Oscars show was overbooked and there was not enough time to fit him into the show.

Despite Coe stealing the show at the Academy Awards, this year's Oscars struggled with low ratings and missteps that received widespread attention.

The Oscars averaged 32.9 million viewers on Sunday night, a four-point drop in viewership from the prior year prior, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The awards show also mistakenly gave La La Land the Best Picture award when Moonlight was actually the winner. An awkward scene ensued on stage as the error had to be explained to the audience and fixed. Jordan Horowitz, a producer for La La Land, told the audience there had been a mistake and Moonlight was the real winner.

The show also got political, with several celebrities taking aim at President Donald Trump and his policies throughout the evening.

Kimmel first poked fun at Trump during his opening monologue, saying the Academy Awards was being watched across the globe "in more than 225 countries that now hate us."

He then went on to tweet  "Hey @realDonaldTrump u up?' and "@realDonaldTrump #Merylsayshi" before calling on the crowd to give a "highly overrated" Meryl Streep a standing ovation for her 20 Oscar nominations throughout her career, the Daily Mail noted.

Kimmel appeared to be mocking the president for calling Streep "overrated" after her speech at the Golden Globes last month. Kimmel then went on to take a shot at Ivanka Trump for her clothing label being dropped by Nordstrom.

There were also several instances of participants in the show castigating Trump for his immigration policy and travel ban throughout the evening.